Devotional Thought for our seemingly Borday Days
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. 9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Isaiah 58:6-9 (NLT)
The beauty offered the Child of Bethlehem is dedicated to all, and we need it like daily bread. Those who would rob a child of beauty to make something useful out of it do not support but destroy; they take away the light, without which all our calculations turn cold and trivial. Of course, if we truly join the pilgrimage of the centuries, which was anxious to lavish the most beautiful things of this world on the newborn King, then we must never forget that he still lives in a stable, in a prison, in the favelas [South American slums], and that we do not praise him should we refuse to find him there. Yet such an awareness will not enslave us under the tyranny of usefulness, where joy becomes a stranger and somber seriousness a dogma.
During our Advent and Christmas services, my congregation started singing a mash-up of an incredible Christmas hymn (For Unto Us A Child is Born) and an older contemporary praise song (Open the Eyes of my Heart). It is a striking combination, proclaiming the joy and glory of Christ here, among us, and our desperate need to see Him lifted high up on the cross, and in our praises.
It came to my mind immediately as I read the words from Pope Benedict XVI ( Cardinal Ratzinger when he wrote them) Taken from an article in my devotions, the part above shows a truth we cannot ignore.
That Christ is found, now as much as then, with those who need Him.
For Jesus always comes to those who cannot provide for themselves.
That is the interesting thing about the Magi, about these wisest of men, they realized they needed Him too, and they searched him out. They didn’t hesitate when they found out hi humble origins when they didn’t find him lying in a castle or on some grand estate. They knew they needed to find him and honor Him, for He was their hope.
I think the former pope is right in this, that it is among the needy that we find Jesus, but as we go there, we don’t just find those we can help, we find out we are just as in need of a Savior. just as in need of someone to minister to us. And so Jesus brings us together, all with different gifts, all broken in different ways and therefore needy, but all in need of Hi love, a love which will heal and transform us all.
Isaiah notes this as well, as He writes of our needing to fast, to break away from the life that is all about us. For then we find God answering our prayers, we find His presence and His work that transforms us into saints, into something righteous. To break apart from what Benedict XVI calls the Tyranny of usefulness.
We need to find ourselves with those we thought more broken, and the realize the reality of our common need, we find joy, for we hear Hi answer to our call, “I AM HERE.”
For He is, He is Immanuel God with Us! AMEN!
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.